IFJ Urges Sri Lankan Government to Acknowledge Wider Issues on Press Freedom

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has welcomed Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse’s recently reported comments on the government’s commitment to press freedom reform, but fears that independent journalism will still be compromised.


According to IFJ affiliate the Free Media Movement (FMM), state media reports have trumpeted comment President Rajapakse made while chairing a progress review meeting of the Ministry for Media & Information.


Rajapakse reportedly spoke of the need for “a more vibrant and efficient role by the government-owned media”.


But IFJ Asia-Pacific director Jacqueline Park said the real extent of the Sri Lankan government’s newfound commitment to press freedom remained to be seen.


“The IFJ is glad to see President Rajapakse finally publicly acknowledging the importance of depoliticising state-owned, government-controlled media,” Park said.


“But actions speak louder than words, and we look forward to seeing how President Rajapakse and his government demonstrate their new commitment to free media,” she said.


Rajapakse spoke on the role of government-owned media to “project the country’s situation to the international community at a time where various people were trying to tarnish the country’s image by engaging in a slanderous campaign abroad”.


But the FMM was quick to point out the distinction between a free media as essential to a functioning democracy, and a media that presents a positive spin on Sri Lanka to the world.


“Editorial pressures and journalists’ safety remain pressing issues in Sri Lanka, and we hope that this will be part of the government’s agenda on press freedom reform,” Park said.


According to the FMM, without secure expertise, commitment of journalists, or representative coalitions matching the diversity of the profession, media law reforms can not commence.


The IFJ urges the government to acknowledge the wider issues on press freedom which will create positive steps to guarantee a freer media.


“Fundamental rights such as media freedom and basic human rights including freedom of speech need immediate attention, and must be constantly uplifted by the government”, Park said.


According to the FMM, without secure expertise, commitment of journalists, or representative coalitions matching the diversity of the profession, media law reforms can not commence.


The IFJ urges the government to acknowledge the wider issues on press freedom which will create positive steps to guarantee a freer media.


“Fundamental rights such as media freedom and basic human rights including freedom of speech need immediate attention, and must be constantly uplifted by the government,” Park said.


For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919


The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in more than 115 countries